Devo, Hogs Prevail

Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE – Upon shifting into first-half Devo drive the Arkansas Razorbacks accelerated 74-59 past the Ole Miss Rebels in Wednesday night’s SEC men’s basketball game at Walton Arena.

Wednesday’s win marked Arkansas’ third consecutive SEC success boosting Coach Eric Musselman’s Razorbacks to 13-4 overall/ 5-4 in the SEC before stepping out of conference for Saturday’s SEC/Big 12 Challenge game at Oklahoma State.

Coach Kermit Davis’ Rebels, winning their previous two SEC games, fall to 8-7, 3-5.

Though second in scoring with 14 points to the game high 19 scored both by Arkansas sixth man JD Notae and Ole Miss starting guard Devontae Shuler, Arkansas freshman reserve guard Davonte “Devo”Davis of Jacksonville most impacted converting an early back and forth first half into a no doubt Arkansas triumph.

Committing four turnovers to Ole Miss’ none, the Hogs slopped along tied 13-13 during the first half.

Off the bench came Davis slapping the slop totally on the Rebels. With a steal the freshman from Jacksonville not only plucked Ole Miss’ first turnovers but zoomed to the basket scoring and was fouled. Missing his second free throw, Davis more than atoned. He rebounded his miss and scored completing a 4-point play at 11:35.

Another Davis rebound led to Justin Smith’s and-one 3-point play. Following with another steal and layup, Davis completed Arkansas’ 9-0 run for a 22-13 lead at 10:26.

Ole Miss was never again closer than down six in the first half that Arkansas led, 37-25 at intermission then increased the lead to 20 during the second half.

“I remember we were down four when he (Davis) came in,” Arkansas center Connor Vanover said. “He had some great stops great layups, some great shots, and he really turned the whole momentum of the game right there. It just took from there, so he played a huge part, especially in that first half. He’s a great player, and he really helped us.”

Musselman opined of the versatile 6-3 freshman: “He’s just such a great energy guy for us. He’s our best loose-ball getter. He tracks down rebounds that are out of his area. He can play the 1, 2 or the 3. It’s really interesting because his first segment of the game he had to play a lot at the 3, and that’s when he got a lot of his rebounds against a bigger, stronger player than just a perimeter guy, because early in the game.”

High scorer Notae gladly gave Davis, 7 of 9 from the field, six rebounds, two steals and an assist in 24:39, his due.

“Devo always plays with intensity that can’t be matched,” Notae said. “We’ll call a play for him, he just does his thing. He’ll be everywhere on the floor, on the floor defensively and offensively. Devo’s just being Devo.”

Notae, 8 of 9 free throws and 3 of 6 treys on a night when Ole Miss hitgdtn 1of 16 treys, and Vanover, eight points, a game-leading seven rebounds and game-leading four blocked shots, five by Musselman’s and the Statbroadast count, posted big nights.

“I thought he (Vanover) was awesome,”Musselman said. “Connor was so vital against the 1-3-1 (zone) because we just threw the ball over the top to him in the corner. Once you get the ball into the corner against a 1-3-1 it flattens that defense out. So Conner was awesome. The stat sheet doesn’t do him justice because I thought his impact on the game was incredible.”

Arkansas’ 7-3 center, pulled off two unique first-half plays turning a block of Ole Miss’ center Romello White’s shot into a midair steal leading to two Desi Sills free throws. Later in the half Vanover emerged from a loose ball scrum to shoot an uncontested jumper.

Of Notae, Musselman said, “ He is that guy that can break a defense down and go get his own shot or get a shot for a teammate.”

The Hogs needed both staying ahead of a solid Ole Miss defensive team with top Arkansas scorer Moses Moody, 26 points last Saturday against Vanderbilt, only netting five points.

Musseman didn’t fret.

“Sometimes guys just have an off night,” Musselman said. “When Moses is denied a little bit, what that does is it opens things up for other players.”

Davis, Notae, Vanover and forward Justin Smith, 10 points and six boards, nicely sealed any gaps.

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